Georgia Tech vs. RIT

About me
I hold a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering (passed out in 2014) and took a break to create a portfolio in order to pursue my masters in Industrial design.
I have admits from the following schools:
1) Rochester Institute of Technology- MFA- Industrial Design
2) Georgia Institute of Technology- Master of Industrial Design-3 years.

I am confused as to which one I should take up. Although I know that portfolio is the most important parameter, I would like to know the importance of Department ranking vs. College ranking when it comes to landing a job. As RIT’s ID department is ranked higher than GATech’s, but the overall college ranking of RIT lower than GATech.

I would also like to know which is the most economical option, as I hail from a middle class family and will be taking a loan for my education. So, Time vs. Money is also a constraint.

The course at RIT is an advanced one compared to GATech, as the latter is a 3 year course offering starting with the basics. I have a pretty good grasping power and can work well under academic pressure, hence I want to know if I need that extra one year from the basics.

I would also like to know how I need to prepare myself, so I don’t find the transition too hard, in case I am choosing RIT.

I am neutral towards both colleges and hence am very confused. Kindly help. TIA

Both schools have generally strong programs.

As far as economical, you need to check directly with the schools to get an understanding of what tuition, room and board, etc will cost. All of that info is available online. The cost of living in the two cities is probably fairly similar, neither is a very expensive place to live. If one is a 2 year program and the other is a 3 year program, that will add quite a bit to the overall cost and is worth considering. With that said, more time learning will improve your skills when you graduate so you may find it easier to get a job with a more robust portfolio and set of experiences.

My wife is an RIT grad, and the only comment I would add is Rochester is very, very cold, and it snows most of the year. I have a friend who is driving up there today and posted pictures of it snowing (1 week away from May). If snow excites you, then that’s something to consider. If not, Georgia has a much more favorable climate.

Have you been to Rochester lately?!!!

I went to GA-Tech for a Masters of ID ('96-'98) and I did my undergrad and Pratt. I think that all schools will give you what you put into them and nothing more. If you are in the South, like I was (South Carolina), I was able to get in-state tuition at GA-Tech because very few states schools in the area offer ID and there is/was an option to leave the state but still pay in-state tuition. (It is limited to certain states). It still cost me $25K with room and board plus the money I took in loans to avoid needing to work while in school.

My reasoning for choosing that school was that I wanted to work in the south east and I know that going to school there would get me better connections in the area… which it did. Just as going to Pratt got me connections in NYC.

I think that where you want to work, plays a bigger impact on where you go to school than the school. If you want to work in Cali, it is much easier to go to school there and be there when you are looking for a job. There are so many locals, they typically will not look at outside candidates. The cost of living is so different, that most will not move there for what they can get paid in that area.

That is my 2 cents worth.

I graduated from the undergrad ID program with GT a few years ago and can offer you my perspective. As the school is quite small, theres a lot of overlap between the MID program and BSID program. I took various grad classes and knew most of the grad students while I was there, some are still good friends. I also ran IDSA Georgia Tech my last year there, so was very involved in the School of ID.

To answer your questions succinctly:

  • Ranking means literally nothing. I know thats tough to grasp, but really the only thing that matters is your portfolio. If you’re going to be concerned with a metric, it should be what does the program teach? Where are the recent graduates working?

  • Do you need the extra year that GT has? Yes, absolutely. If you had posted on these boards a year ago, asking if you should do a 4 year bachelors or a 2 year masters, most would’ve told you to do the Bachelors, because you need the time to develop skills (drawing, ideating, model making, CAD, rendering, storytelling, presenting yourself, etc.)

In general, I’d say that Georgia Tech has a strong masters program, but it is heavily bias towards research and UX and falls flat on creating classical industrial designers. Maybe 1 person out of each graduating class actually ends up working in hardware doing industrial design? The vast majority do interaction design or design research, and won’t ever ship a physical product. The remaining chunk ends up working in whatever field their previous degree qualified them for. I’d bet RIT isn’t too different than this to be honest.

Your best bet is to pick a location that you like. Atlanta is wonderful and there’s a reasonable number of jobs to be had locally. With RIT you’ll probably have to make trips into the city to find desirable work. Either school you pick, you should start working your ass off to pursue what you want to do. If your dream job is working at an ID consultancy, start now and don’t stop running until you’re there. Start sketching, obsess over products and how they’re made, read blogs, find portfolios you like, learn manufacturing techniques, make things with your hands, etc.

FWIW it’s probably more responsible of schools to be focusing on UX and research as there is a larger job market for those positions, especially in the US. Masters degrees also offer different experience than a 4 year bachelors degree which will tend to focus more on the traditional ID work of sketching, model making, etc.

Thank you so much Eddie. What you say makes perfect sense. What I forgot to mention is that I not a student form the USA. I hail from India. And my goal is to work at an ID consultancy, and make products. But, thanks to my background, I am also open to getting my hands on Ux design as TBH, it pays relatively more compared to product designing, and I may have to consider that, as I will be taking a loan for this education. But thanks a lot for your advice :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for your advice :slight_smile: I am currently open to all disciplines that come under ID. Although my interest is slightly inclined towards Furniture design, I want to work on every aspect of design and see which suits the best for me. Ux, as you’ve rightly mentioned, is high on demand right now and concentrating on that would probably prove very useful.

Thank you! And about the location, I honestly don’t have any fixed location in mind as I hail from India and am used to shifting base inside India frequently. I would although prefer landing a job in either NY or Cali, which is why RIT may be the right place if I want to end up working in NY.